Two brothers separated by their parents broken marriage make a plan to reunite their families. Review of the poignant and heartfelt I Wish after the jump.
Koichi lives with his mother and grandparents in the southern Japanese city of Kagoshima, which is plagued by falling ash from the active volcano just offshore. His younger brother Ryu lives with their father, a musician who still lives the lifestyle of a student some 280km away in the city of Fukuoka. Koichi misses his extremely cheerful brother dearly, and longs for nothing more than for the family to again live together. When Koichi’s schoolmate tells him that miracles are possible, he begins to believe his dreams could become a reality. All he needs to do is go to the spot where the newly launched shinkansen trains will pass each other and make a wish – if he does that then his wish might just come true. With the help of his school friends and rather sympathetic grandfather, Koichi plans a journey to go to the spot where the trains pass to make his wish and get his miracle.
The thing which sets this film apart is how natural it feels, particularly the interactions between the children. We are fully immersed in their world, spending a long time learning about their home and school lives before they even get to the planning stage for the journey. For those unfamiliar with Japan outside of Tokyo, this is especially interesting, as we get quite a detailed look at life in southern Japan. We spend much time observing the children interacting with each other, and it feels as if the film makers have simply observed the children having conversations – I have to assume that some of this was unscripted conversation prompted by a topic or situation given to the children. Kids really do say the darndest things, and this film has plenty of amusing quips delivered by the utterly sincere child characters. The two brothers are played by real-life brothers, and their brotherly bond comes through in the film very strongly. They are such unique, loveable, and flawed characters who are an absolute joy to spend two hours with.
While the children are lovely and the journey is quite sweet, this film does have a lot of depth to it. Marriage breakups and adjusting to live afterwards is something that impacts far too many children, and this film offers a realistic and moving account of one family’s experience. The film also delves into the dreams of young children and the moments they realise that sometimes dreams just simply don’t or can’t come true. At 128 minutes, this film is quite lengthy, and while I enjoyed getting to know the characters and their world, it did get a little tedious at times. The film also asks the audience to believe that the parents/carers of these children would go along with their plans or turn a blind eye. This may be a hard ask for some, but if you can believe you will be rewarded by a beautiful and uplifting story, and you may just find out that miracles can come true in some way or another.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Writer(s): Hirokazu Koreeda
Starring: Koki Maeda, Ohshirô Maeda, Ryôga Hayashi
Runtime: 128 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: October 4, 2012